It was a mystery for the ages, the crime of the century. A few scratcher lottery tickets and/or some cash swiped from a convenience store counter. In broad daylight. The nerve!
Police interviewed the clerk, who said he didn’t just steal them himself. Being human polygraphs, officers cleared him right away. Being forensic reconstruction experts too, they reviewed the surveillance video, which showed a lady quite clearly, but not much more. They immediately concluded there had been a crime.
They got a lucky break because the clerk, who definitely didn’t just steal some stuff, got the license plate of the regular who committed the dastardly deed. Officers pulled the driver’s license photo associated with the plate and put it in a lineup that might as well have included a few bearded truckers and a German Shepherd. The clerk fingered the perp, noting how “the years haven’t been kind,” but that was solid enough for the experts on the police force. The cops got their woman.
The tireless city attorney‘s office then did what tireless city attorney offices do. They charged the shit out of the lady in the MVD photo, who happened to look nothing like the lady in the video that showed no crime.
After a month of begging by defense counsel, the city disclosed a blank compact disc that was supposed to contain the video. Being blank, it didn’t work for obvious reasons. The staff and attorneys at the city provided much needed comfort by explaining that the lawyer’s client was indeed quite guilty. They also insisted they could view it just fine and would win at trial because it was a smoking gun.
For months and months, each call by the defense about the blank CD was met by calming assurances that a member of their cracker jack prosecuting team was hard at work reviewing the video. It was “John” for the first month or so, then someone else for the next couple. Every time, the assistant at the city attorney promised the CD was fine. Until one day.
“Holy smokes, that CD’s blank!”
The prosecutor’s assistant jumped to action, demanding from the police a CD with something on it. The police quickly responded, hurriedly preparing a copy of the CD at the breakneck speed of only several weeks and then forwarding it to the prosecutor’s assistant, who in turn forwarded a copy to the defense.
The next CD finally worked after a few software downloads and a few hours trying to operate the confusing interface. After realizing the video was clearly exculpatory and showed some other woman committing no crime at all, the defense contacted the prosecutor.
Backed into a corner by the masterfully intricate chess game the defense was playing by actually watching the video of the crime, the state bravely disclosed that it had never actually viewed the video. It was as dramatic as the reveal at the end of an M. Night Shyamalan movie; the city would not allow its employees to download the software to view it because it came from an unapproved source.
Undeterred, defense counsel demanded they view it. Defense counsel even offered to set a convenient time at his office for the state to swing by and see that it didn’t show his client at all. The prosecutor, in a brazen bluff, said he would view it on his home computer. He even promised he would do it and call when he was done. Doubling down, he even promised that, if not, he would travel to defense counsel’s office to view the video.
Prolonged silence ensued. Before the next hearing, however, the defense reached out. An assistant said the assigned prosecutor was available but did not wish to speak. It would all be solved at the upcoming hearing, she promised, but defense counsel must personally appear.
When the time came for the hearing, defense counsel appeared but the prosecutor was on vacation. And he may not have been the assigned prosecutor at all. Another Shyamalanian twist, it was almost too much to handle.
The prosecutor in court conformed that nobody had ever watched the video because of all those darn city policies about downloads. Better to waste months of defense counsel’s time and tear an innocent woman away from work than to admit they aren’t omnipotent, after all.
He pinky-swore they would dismiss if defense counsel just showed up early, set up a wireless hub and internet, loaded the video at just the right spot from every angle, and had the defendant sit right next to him.
Justice clearly wouldn’t come cheap, but at the hearing, the defense delivered. The prosecutor exclaimed:
That lady’s twenty years older!
Her body type is completely different!
That’s a completely different hair color!
She’s almost a foot shorter than the defendant!
Whoa, totally different face shape too!
Tell you what, we’ll dismiss right away…
And so it ended. That chapter, at least. The real perp remains at large.
Sounds like a job for the Hardly Boys to me: